The next chapter in Tracy Marks’ The Astrology of Self-Awareness deepens our understanding of the transits of Neptune in our charts. Often considered to bring fog, confusion, discouragement, and, if we are lucky, inspiration, Neptune in Marks’ analysis becomes a force we can work with if we understand its force and potential.
Seeing Neptune approach a planet or specific house or angle, we can begin to open our minds and spirit to other dimensions of their expression. Creative inspiration is one manifestation, when an idea or work of art can almost be “downloaded” from the Universe. Lin-Manuel Miranda, as transiting Neptune in Aquarius was in sextile to his natal Neptune in the 9th house, read a biography of Alexander Hamilton during a long plane ride (9th house – expanding his mind while traveling), and emerged from the experience with the seed for a musical about Hamilton planted in his imagination. Over the next seven years, Neptune would cross his exalted Venus in Pisces in the 12th house, awakening his powers as a composer and bringing to the world one of the most successful and loved musicals of all time.
A strong desire for service can also awaken during a Neptunian transit. Bill Gates, a cut-throat capitalist from the time he was a young man, retired from his company in 2008 to serve the world through philanthropy as Neptune in Aquarius opposed his Jupiter-Pluto conjunction in Leo – and was in trine to his natal Neptune in Libra, showing that his work was in partnership with his wife at that time, Melinda Gates. As Neptune entered Pisces and Bill Gates’ 9th house, the work of his foundation went global, as concern for world health became a primary focus. Marks warns that we can sometimes view ourselves as a “savior to humanity” under Neptune transits, and we have seen Bill Gates criticized for some of his efforts while at the same time having success bringing direct care to specific groups and individuals. Focusing on what we can do for people at a practical level is key to expressing this Neptunian longing to make life better for other human beings.
We can also experience a sense of the oneness of all life under Neptune’s transits. Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert, began his life as an academic but became fascinated with the mind-expanding potential of LSD as Neptune in Scorpio in his 5th house was in sextile to his natal 3rd house Neptune. As Neptune moved through Scorpio to trine his exalted Venus in Pisces in the 9th house, Richard Alpert traveled to India to learn about the unity of all life through enlightened gurus. Neptune would eventually trine his Jupiter-Ascendant-Pluto conjunction in Cancer, and Richard Alpert emerged as the spiritual guide Ram Dass. All is love, he taught us.
But this is not to deny that Neptune’s transits can mirror deeply sad times in our lives, or times when our emotions overwhelm us like waves on a stormy ocean. Life becomes a place from which we long to escape to a land kinder and more ideal. One of the saddest stories in recent weeks was the death of Lisa Marie Presley, who suffered a heart-attack at the age of 54. Over the past few years, Neptune has been transiting her 8th house Moon-Mars conjunction in Pisces and opposing her Pluto. During that time, her beloved son committed suicide, and she struggled to live with the enormous pain she experienced every day. Last summer, she wrote movingly about the process of grief and how one never moves on from it but, instead, carries it forward with us. One can’t help but wonder if she believed she needed to die to escape her pain, and truly died of a broken heart.
But Marks writes about Neptune not to discourage us from its impact but to encourage us to embrace the flow of its path. We cannot control exterior events, but we can prepare ourselves inwardly for what is to come. If we feel anxious or fearful, Marks tells us to “use techniques of systematic desensitization, first meditating or otherwise relaxing our bodies muscle by muscle, and then, while feeling at peace, envisioning ourselves coping successfully with fearful circumstances and affirming ourselves with positive statements which help dissolve our anxiety and build our self-esteem.” Doing this helps us tap into resources of intuition and courage we did not even know we possessed, and we learn to trust our inner guides. While Neptune transits can indicate times when the physical world is dissolving before our eyes, what is left behind is less tangible, more elusive, and yet more true and real and valuable that anything we had known before.